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Surgery for scoliosis

Written by 

My Motivation and About Me

By Maggie Victoria

I am writing this article, in the hope that you the reader will understand, my journey as a Mom of a scoliosis child, and I, a post scoliosis surgery patient. It is my hope that you will find insight, and knowledge in my journey and experience with my Life after scoliosis surgery, and now my daughters journey through her challenge to stabilize and treat her scoliosis against the norms, of the scoliosis treatment protocol, which is “wait and watch”, “scoliosis bracing”, progression and ultimately, the last choice scenario of scoliosis surgery. 

Her diagnosis of scoliosis was a devastating blow to me. I realized then that I could not allow my experience to become hers and I would not allow her to sit and wait until she reached surgical levels. It is her diagnosis that has led me to become a passionate advocate of Scoliosis Boot Camp methods, and non-surgical scoliosis treatment of her scoliosis during the normal surgical protocol of wait and watch. 

I came upon the ScoliSmart through my research on the web and contacted them. What I found surprised me, delighted me, and excited me. These professionals are devoted to the non-surgical scoliosis treatment of our children and they are highly educated in scoliosis and its anomalies. They are quietly, revolutionizing, and bettering the health of the scoliosis child without surgery. With just one visit to a ScoliSmart doctor, I knew we were in the right place, and such a stark contrast to the experience we had at the scoliosis surgery clinic.  

I want to share my experience and my journey with you, the reader, in hopes, that you too, will seek the truth, about scoliosis treatments, about the controversy that is now surrounding scoliosis surgery i.e. its benefits vs. its long term outcomes and risks.

I hope it will provoke questions, and thought and further research, so you the parent, will make the best decision possible, without pressure, or haste fort the benefit of your child and your child’s health. Scoliosis treatment with the ScoliSmart methods does no harm and creates no pain.  Unlike scoliosis surgery, which is life altering and permanent. Once your scoliosis spine is surgically fused, you are forever, now limited going forward in your ability to take advantage of the new, promising treatments and research advances that will be available. I am not willing to close that door for my daughter.

Be well, and best Wishes.

~Maggie 

Life after Scoliosis Surgery

Please note, the following content is not to degrade or bash the scoliosis surgeon who has devoted their life to the surgical treatment of our community. It is rather, to raise awareness, of the options that we now have available to us for non-surgical scoliosis intervention. I think this next decade, has exciting times ahead for us, as we journey through, to find the better way.

There are millions of individuals diagnosed with scoliosis world-wide.  Many of these children will undergo invasive and life altering spinal fusion scoliosis surgery. Most often the parents and the families are told that scoliosis fusion scoliosis surgery is the only way to treat the scoliosis patient once the curve progresses above a pre-determined threshold. I have spoken and dialoged with many scoliosis surgical patients, who were told that without  scoliosis surgery they would be dead, as their heart and lungs would be crushed. Upon challenging this very ideal, I am met with great resistance, and this notion just is not true. Research indicates that the disease of scoliosis is not life threatening. In fact, many insurance companies are beginning to review these scoliosis surgeries, for the benefits vs. the costs of the scoliosis surgery itself. If you are told that there is no choice, and surgery is a must, and must be done immediately, please pause, please ask questions, and please do not rush to scoliosis fusion surgery.

There has been vast progress in the non-invasive, non-surgical approach to scoliosis treatment. There are options available that have shown to stabilize, decrease, or reverse the scoliosis while keeping the mind, body and spirit, intact and whole. Currently, there are somewhere in the range of about 800,000 people in America with scoliosis.

We continue to rely on antiquated treatment methods, that do very little to address the root cause of the curve. Standard treatment protocol for the scoliosis patients is “wait and watch”, “scoliosis brace” and scoliosis surgery. This leaves parents and children very few options, but scoliosis fusion surgery as the scoliosis curve progresses and rotates.

The Pre-conceived Notions about Scoliosis and Its Treatment

Doctors, the scoliosis community and even the published media continually indoctrinate those newly diagnosed that nothing but surgical correction of scoliosis, can address the condition of scoliosis. What is not conveyed to each new patient is that generally scoliosis bracing does not hold the spine stable, and does nothing to reverse the scoliosis, and the wait and watch protocol, is largely a ticking time bomb that ultimately can lead to scoliosis surgery, for those who are sure to progress without non-surgical scoliosis intervention. 

Scoliosis surgery, is brute force lateral curve correction, with spinal fusion, and metal instrumentation introduced to the body that will have long term outcomes that are not favorable and can lead to patients becoming permanently disabled, living with severe debilitating chronic pain at a time in their lives when they least expect it. 

Scoliosis surgeries are not to be taken lightly. These scoliosis surgeries are complex, and they are not without risk of short and long term complications. When complications arise, long term, there is no standard treatment protocol to address the complications and no one individual will have the same issues as the next. Complications, of premature wear above and below the instrumentation and fusion levels can occur, degenerative disc disease (DDD), stenosis (narrowing that causes pinching of the nerves or spinal cord), facet joint arthropathy (joint disease), bone spur formation, osteoarthritis, spondylitis, spondylolesthesis, loss of correction, flat back syndrome, instrumentation failure and surgical failure etc.

The patient, with failed scoliosis surgery syndrome, quickly gets caught up, in a vicious circle of medical professionals, they are largely dismissed, some are even referred to psychiatrists for emotional issues, that are diagnosed as a result of the so called treatment team not being able to identify why this patient is failing to thrive. Most of these scoliosis patients end up finding peace, support, and guidance on online forums, and groups for folks that suffer just as they are. They are further victimized by the health care system as they are tossed from surgeon to surgeon and prescribed inadequate treatments that are meant to pacify rather than fix the root cause. These patients do not have the courage and have a voice until they find out through online forums that they are one of many others suffering just the same. The only answer for these patients is more surgery, surgery that is far more complex and dangerous then the first scoliosis surgery. To add further insult to injury most of these patients have to fight to get any government disability income what so ever. Many of them are turned down several times, and end up needing a lawyer to fight for what is rightfully theirs. The question in my mind, is who is accountable for these failed surgeries, who is accountable for the generations of people who are now in failure, who have lost their abilities, their quality of lives, their ability to earn an income that far exceeds what any individual would receive on SSI disability benefits. We have lost generations of productive contributing adults who are now living in chronic pain. 

We must begin to question, why scoliosis surgeries are on the rise in America and why it is being promoted as the only treatment that must be performed to address the lateral curve of the scoliosis patients. We must become skeptics in our own healthcare as these surgeries are presented as “life and death” scenarios that must be performed immediately once the patient advances to perceived surgical levels. We must also begin to question the very elements that are used to determine the severity of the scoliosis Cobb angle. We know that the measurement of the Cobb angle only addresses the scoliosis curvature from a two dimensional perspective and this is flawed from the onset as scoliosis is more than two dimensional. We must begin to question, to research to find a better way.

The medical community as an entity must better service its scoliosis community of patients by making parents aware of these non-surgical treatments for the sake and the well-being of the patient.

We are being told after all this time, that the only way to improve, to relieve (non-existent symptoms of pain) is to open the body up, chip away at bone from hips and ribs for harvest to the spinal vertebrae, to take the mobile, flexible spine and to fuse it to a solid, immobile structure that will become rigid, and instrument the spine, with large and invasive pieces of metal. The body, and its natural mechanics now permanently altered and the long term outcomes unknown.

We must begin to change mindset, to think progressively, and put aside the traditional treatment modalities to advance and to a better way of non-surgical, non-invasive treatment approaches for long term health benefits. 

We as a community and as a parent must do our research, stay mindful of the advances in non-surgical scoliosis treatments and challenge the status quo for the best of our children.

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